ASIF SOHAIL

The qualification for the candidates aspiring to contest the election for the new chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), prescribed in the judgment of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, the honorable judge of the Islamabad High Court, has induced most of our former cricket legends to jump into the race.

The new PCB chief election is a historic event which is, sadly, being settled by the courts. This election has to be conducted amidst decision of the International Cricket Council (ICC) which requires a democratic process in the election for the head of every cricket board across the globe. In May this year, only a few days before the general elections, the suspended PCB chief Zaka Ashraf had got himself elected under the cover of a dubious constitution tailor made to perpetuate his tenure. The real stakeholders were contemptuously ignored during the election process.

In its full judgment, the court said: “Since, it would be the first ever PCB election, therefore, Electoral College shall consist of presidents of all elected regional and district cricket associations and nominees of departments playing first class cricket. Every \voter of the Electoral College shall be eligible to contest the election provided he is not carrying any disqualification under organic law of the country i.e. Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, remained first class/Test cricketer or has experience of running district or regional cricket association and in case of nominee from first class playing departments has experience of administration, at least graduate and not a defaulter of the PCB.”

Till now, former Test cricketers Zaheer Abbas, Abdul Qadir, Javed Miandad, and Mohsin Hassan Khan have expressed their desire to contest the election for the PCB chairman. All of them possess knowledge of the game of cricket and the present day cricketers can’t match their achievements in international cricket. But they are not chairman stuff. Their expertise and cricket talent can be effectively used in strengthening our domestic structure.

Towering personalities with absolute understanding of cricket and management experience have led Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in the past. They were all nominated by the patron which then was always the head of the state. It is so unfortunate that after Fida Hassan, Abdul Hafeez Kardar and Air Martial (R) Nur Khan, the PCB could not get any chairman having good administrative qualities, understanding about the game of cricket and obsession to promote the game at grassroots level.

While it is imperative that the new PCB chief should possess deep knowledge of cricket, international and domestic, he should be also an excellent administrator as well who understood the financial and marketing aspects of the game of gentlemen and could effectively present the PCB’s view point at the ICC meetings.

If we quickly go into the merits of the above-named former Test cricketers who are bidding for the PCB chief, we know that Asian Bradman, being the manager of the Pakistan cricket team on England tour in 2006, had miserably failed to handle the situation when team captain Inzamamul Haq declined to take the field following the decision by the field umpires to change the ball during the Oval Test amid suspicion of tempering of the ball by Pakistani bowlers. How can a person who can’t control a team of 16 players aspire to become the chairman of the PCB?

Even the former opening batsman and the master leg-spinner don’t qualify for the big job which demands administrative, financial and marketing experience that is essential to lead an institution working in a corporate environment. The present director general of the PCB has been a fine cricketer but he lacks education and managerial expertise plus his relationship with a contentious individual could prove to be an insurmountable hurdle.

This doesn’t mean that there is dearth of competent ex-Test cricketers in Pakistan. We have Majid Khan, Salim Altaf, Iqbal Qasim and a few others who are educated and possess immense knowledge of the game and also have vast management experience. They are all well-known figurers in international cricket and their integrity is beyond doubt. But they have no temperament for power politics which will be vigorously demonstrated in the PCB chairman elections.

If the stakeholders – regional, district associations and departments who have played a significant role in the development and promotion of cricket in Pakistan - really want this game to survive, they should vote for a cricketer who can serve the game honestly, openly and uprightly.

–The writer is a freelance journalist